“Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." ~ 1 Peter 4:8
The night her sister turned 53, their Dad called to inform Sheila that her sister’s cancer had spread to multiple organs. Her end was near. She’d not wished her sister a happy birthday; they’d barely spoken in 3 years.
Racked with indecision, Sheila asked “Does Laura want me there?”
Through beeping monitors and the ventilator’s hiss, she heard her Dad repeating the question several times. Her sister replied in a barely audible voice, “Yes.”
Sheila hung up and steadied herself, recalling their last conversation. It’d started off OK, but within minutes they were back to bickering like teenagers. There’d never been a real reason. Some of it was normal sister stuff: juvenile name-calling, petty jealousies, and unauthorized clothes pilfering. Almost anything could spark an argument.
After their mother died, Laura assumed the role of Mother Superior - a position as eldest sibling she’d rightly earned. She claimed Sheila was selfish … Sheila called Laura a ‘control freak.’
Soon they replaced the fragile bond of sisterhood with wounds that never healed. Instead of leaning on each other for strength and answers, they grew into two miserably, resentful women. Their last exchange ended on hateful, destructive terms.
For the twenty long minutes Sheila drove to the hospital, anger and resentment morphed into fear and anxiety. It wasn’t her sister’s dying that frightened Sheila, but rather the possibility of Laura telling her one last time how she’d ruined her life with bad decisions. “Could she possibly listen to Laura rattle off a litany of her failures one last time?” she wondered.
She stood at her sister’s doorway, frozen like a statue, not saying a word. Her Dad hugged Sheila before exiting. “Go talk to her,” he whispered. “She doesn’t have long.”
Laura’s voice crackled like tissue paper as she tried to speak. “Hold me Sheila, please hold me.”
And that’s what Sheila did; pressing through the sickness, trying to bury all those years they’d wasted. There would be no hanging up this time, no slamming doors or telling each other to f#ck off. “I love you Laura,” she managed as her only sister took her final breath.
Whether she agreed or even heard the words, Sheila would never know for sure. If she’d had more time, she would’ve said everything she’d always wanted to say: that she was sorry they had to grow up so fast, that she appreciated Laura’s filling the ‘Mom’ role, and apologizing for being such a selfish pain.
Now as she thinks about the evening her sister died, she pretends that’s exactly what Laura heard.
Love rarely ever knows its own depth until it’s taken away. So don’t wait around. If you love someone today, tell them.
Almighty God, You sent Your own Son into this world to die for us that we might be saved and reunited back to You. Help us to excel at promoting, maintaining, and protecting positive relationships within our lives! Amen